Monday, June 10, 2013

Dating with a Disability and a Dog

It's been more than seven months now since Mike and I separated.  I haven't dated much in that time, but I have dated a little.

Let me start by saying I hate dating.  I always have.  I've enjoyed being in relationships, although I'm also enjoying being single now.  But I hate dating.  Especially first dates.  First dates feel a lot like job interviews, only more complicated, because it's like I'm being interviewed and also like I'm interviewing someone else.

The internet has changed the dating process for many people, I think, and it's mostly been a good thing for me.  Mike and I met online.  Since I don't have a regular job, and I don't go to school, and I don't go to church, and I don't enjoy bars or nightclubs at all, I don't have many opportunities to meet people.  Plus, on internet dating sites you can be really clear in your profile about what you're looking for and then you can kind of screen people and try to avoid the idiots as much as possible.  Of course, you get messages from all kinds of creepy people online, too.  But you can just delete those.  It's better than someone creepy hitting on you at a party, I think.

When you have a disability, you have to decide when to tell a potential partner about your disability.  If you are blind or use a wheelchair, people are gonna figure that out as soon as they meet you, but if you have PTSD, they won't know until you tell them (or until something happens that freaks them out if they don't know about the PTSD, like have a flashback when you're with them).  I don't want to spend a lot of time getting to know and like someone, only to find out that they can't deal with the fact that I have PTSD.  I also don't want them to feel like I was not being honest, or somehow "lying by omission," if I'm not up front about.  On the other hand, I don't want to scare someone off before they've gotten the chance to know me at all.  Plus, I don't think the PTSD is the most important thing about me and I don't want to present it like it is.

It occurred to me recently that, although people can't tell just by looking at me that I have PTSD, it is now summer and it is hot out and I am not going on a first date wearing long sleeves.  I've had scars on my arms, and elsewhere, for years and years, but most were pretty faded.  After the... what do I call it?  The incident?  I don't know.  The thing last November when I cut myself really badly.  I now have numerous scars on both arms that are quite noticeable.  I'm sure they will fade more in time, but they are very obvious and anyone I meet will see them right away.  If I don't tell them before we meet, I need to be prepared to answer the inevitable question about what happened to my arms.

Then there is the dog.  When do I tell people I have a service dog?  If I tell them I have a service dog but haven't told them I have a disability, well, they are going to ask why I have a service dog so I need to be prepared to answer questions about my disability.  On the other hand, mentioning Isaac can be a good way to lead up to the fact that I have a disability.  For instance, if someone mentions their dog (people love to talk about their animals), I can say, "I have a dog, too.  He's a yellow lab.  He's a trained service dog."  Or, if someone I'm chatting with online asks for a picture of me, I can send them a picture of me with Isaac, with Isaac dressed in his service dog vest.  I've done that a couple times.

I decided I do need to let people know I have a service dog before I show up for a first date with Isaac in tow.  At first I wasn't sure if I should mention it ahead of time or not.  Then I decided, what if someone is allergic to dogs?  What if they are really scared of dogs for some reason?  What if they just don't like dogs?  It seems unfair to show up with one without making sure it's OK with them first.  Now, if someone said they hated dogs and would never want to be around my service dog, then obviously that relationship would not be going anywhere.  But it still seems wise, and fair, to discuss that before I show up at Starbucks with my service dog for a first date (I think Starbucks is the perfect place for a first date, by the way.  It's casual, you can  make it a short date if you want but you can also hang out and talk for a whole afternoon if you want.  And if the date doesn't show up, I still get a latte.).


  1. Excellent points about how it's a bit more complicated to date when you have a disability and/or a service dog. I didn't think of that. I met Brian on an online dating forum and we chatted online a lot first before meeting. These issues seem like they would come up during some chat sessions since it's good to find out if the person has a problem with someone with PTSD or a service dog. I wonder too if there are dating sites for people with PTSD as well as the general ones so you increase your chances of meeting someone who gets your situation and can relate to it. There are lots of neat people online but lots of weirdos too. I have some funnny horror stories that I've told brian about including the guy who didn't show up several times for a date and I think he got off on the idea of me waiting for him to show up. I was too nice and gave him too many chances since he had an excuse each time and we clicked personality wise. I had fun doing the online dating thing! Hopefully you will too.

    1. There might be dating sites for people with PTSD, but I don't really want to limit my pool of potential partners to only other people with PTSD. I wouldn't necessarily not date someone else that had PTSD, but I'm not sure two people with PTSD would be a great combination, either. And it would seem sort of creepy to me if someone that did not have PTSD specifically sought out someone with PTSD to date.

      I usually don't spend a lot of time chatting online before meeting someone. I had an experience in the past in which I did that, and eventually figured out the guy was never really going to meet up in person. Looking back, I suspect he was married and just wanted some online sexy talk. Apparently that's not real uncommon. Plus, sometimes it seems like there is a good connection online but then when you meet them in person, it just fizzles. Like the guy that I really enjoyed talking to online and on the phone, but when we met up at Starbucks, he was dressed in green, yellow, and pink Hawaiian print shorts and had neglected to wear his teeth. It was a turn off.

  2. I remember you posting about the guy without his teeth. That would be a huge turnoff! I would have been seriously creeped out. Having teeth (and teeth in good condition) is important to me. I didn't even think of the creep factor of fnding someone who sought someone with PTSD to date. Like they would use it to take advantage. Not to mention it would limit you as well.

    The hard part for me about internet dating was the people who weren'[t honest about why they were online and what they were looking for. If someone just wants to talk online (and specifically talk dirty) they should say so and not lead a person on into thinking they might actually meet. I met quite a few guys who weren't honest with me about themselves and what they wanted etc. It was nightmarish but looking back it was fun in some ways. It worked out. I did enjoy the online chatting just to learn something new about someone else. I feel like Brian and I talked more in depth when we chatted online before we met! Now we talk about pretty boring everyday stuff. The beginning of a relationship is so exciting especially with different strangers. Anyway, hope it is fun and not creepy for you.

    1. I think people do tend to lie a lot online. A lot of guys seem to lie about being married - they really are married but just want something on the side. They either say they aren't married when they are, or they say they are married but they have an "open relationship" and their wife is OK with them seeing other people. Of course, if you want to chat with the wife to confirm this, their story suddenly changes.

      I think people should be honest if all they want is some cyber sex. Or phone sex, or whatever. I'm sure they can find someone else that wants that. But it's not fair to someone that wants more than that to pretend they want more, too, when they really don't.

      I guess no teeth at all is better than bad teeth. But yeah, I'm in favor of teeth.